Document the Accident
As soon as possible you should document the facts of the accident. Begin a folder to keep all the information together. Be sure you have the information you need about any witnesses. You might want to take photographs of the cars involved, the location of the accident, and your injuries. Draw a diagram of the accident scene with sufficient detail as to locations of landmarks and vehicles to assist your recollection later on.
The insurance company for the driver at fault may want you to give them a statement, either in person or on the phone. We recommend that you not give such a statement, at least without first consulting with an attorney. You do want to talk with your own insurance company, however, so that you can receive any medical payment or personal injury protection benefits that may be available.
Keep An Injury Diary
People either forget or repress many of the problems they suffer after a serious injury. You should begin keeping your diary up-to-date immediately. This information can be invaluable at the time of settlement negotiations or trial. You should record the following information in your diary:
- A list of your injuries. Explain your pain and discomfort
- Explain how your injuries have affected your job performance. Explain how your injuries have affected your day-to-day activities.
- Do you have any trouble getting dressed, driving a car, sleeping?
- Have you been unable to ski, dance, garden, golf, or participate in your other hobbies?
- Have you missed any family outings, vacations, or church activities?
Recovering From Your Injuries
The most important matter to keep in mind is that you recover fully, or as much as possible, from all your injuries. You should faithfully follow any instructions from your doctor, and be sure to keep any appointments with specialists, physical therapists, etc. In our view, legal issues should be secondary to your full recovery.
Please be aware and assume that everything stated and/or observed by your doctor may be taken down in detailed notes. These notes, or a report made from them, are later read by the insurance company when it is time to negotiate the value of your personal injury claim. The value of your claim largely depends on your doctors' reports. If your doctor is not aware of your limitations, pain, etc., he/she will not provide that information in the report. If your doctor feels an injury is exaggerated, it may be put in a report.
Give Complete Information To Your Doctor About Your Car Accident, Motorcycle Accident, Or Bicycle Accident Injury
Remember to tell your doctor about all your pains, discomforts, and limitations. Your doctor will determine whether the complaints are related to the accident. Some problems may seem minor but relate to another injury in another part of your body. Your doctor will need this information in order to properly treat you. Try to be as accurate and objective as possible; under no circumstances should you fabricate or exaggerate any problems. Include the following information:
- Complaints of pain immediately after the accident and symptoms developed within the first few days.
- Describe how the accident happened and what caused your injuries during impact (connect your injuries with what happened to your body during impact). For example, your head struck the windshield causing head injury.
- Symptoms that developed later and what symptoms you are presently having.
- How long each symptom lasted.
- Tell your doctor about any job-related activities that affect your injuries and if your job performance is adversely affected. Your doctor then can determine whether your injuries prevent you from performing your job for a certain amount of time or permanently.
- If you return to work and find that your injuries are aggravated, return to your doctor. Your doctor may recommend you stop work for a while, or reassure you that working will not interfere or prolong your recovery.
- If your doctor recommends that you not work for a while, the insurance company will require something in writing from your doctor indicating the time period that you are to remain off work.
Income Loss Verification
If you lost any income because of your car accident, motorcycle accident, or bicycle accident, either through employment or odd jobs, those losses must be documented. You may also have wage benefits available under your auto policy, or another auto policy, such as the driver or owner of the car. In addition, if you were employed there might be wage loss benefits available through your employer or union. If you are going to be off work for any length of time, it is important to explore every avenue.
Be certain to contact all your own insurance carriers immediately regard payment of bills. You may have Personal Injury Protection or Medical Payments coverage available through an auto policy. You might also have health insurance that can help.
Out of Pocket Expenses
Keep receipts from any prescriptions or medications that you have had to purchase from your car accident, motorcycle accident, or bicycle accident and any other out-of-pocket expenses. Also keep track of mileage to see medical providers, particularly if you are required to travel significant distances to get treatment for your injuries. Some of these expenses may be reimbursable at the time of settlement with the insurance company.